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How common is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is an issue for many. It means an increase in the brown colour of the skin usually unevenly or unexpectedly. When it is extreme it can impact negatively on a person self-esteem and quality of life.

It is an exceptionally common problem: genetically some people have a skin type that is prone to pigmentation with increasing age and photodamage and this presents as a mottled irregular pigmentation and areas of “sun spots”. Sun spots occur in up to 90% of the population over the age of 60. 

Melasma is a very common skin disorder, especially among pregnant women. It usually starts between 20 and 40 years of age and affects around 10% of the population. It most often occurs during a woman’s reproductive years and is usually as a result of a  combination of genetic predisposition, exposure to UV radiation and visible light, pregnancy and hormonal therapies (OCP). 

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a disruption to the colour of the skin because of a previous inflammatory or traumatic condition to the skin, the darker the underlying skin type then the longer the post-inflammatory changes take to clear. 

How can you treat these conditions?

Once an understanding of your particular skin type and having the correct diagnosis has been established then we move to treatment.

The key treatments are:

  • Optimising topical medical skin care 
  • Oral medications in some cases
  • Energy based devices, like lasers are chosen, they can leave a small scab on the surface and stimulate pigment removal 

How efficient is the treatment?

The treatment of melasma encompasses a strict skincare routine with additional help with oral medications and/or  laser energy. This regime when utilised correctly has been demonstrated to show improvement in melasma in 90% of cases.

For individuals with sunspots the areas of pigmentation usually clear after one or treatments. Individuals with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation usually require multiple treatments.

How long do the results last?

In many cases the result can be permanent if a strict skin care routine of sun protection is adhered to, for others if this is not possible the skin may need to be treated on a repeated basis.